Former Ukrainian leaders outraged by naval base deal ratification
KIEV, April 27 (RIA Novosti) - The former Ukrainian president and prime minister have expressed anger over the ratification on Tuesday of a naval base agreement with Russia.
The deal extends the lease on a Russian base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017, and may be further extended by another five years. In return, Ukraine will receive a 30% discount on Russian natural gas.
The agreement was ratified simultaneously by the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments on Tuesday. Around 7,000 protestors and supporters gathered in front of the Supreme Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, and eggs and smoke bombs were thrown inside the chamber
Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, who now heads the nationalist Our Ukraine party criticized the new government for "trading sovereignty for gas."
"What happened in the Supreme Rada is a military usurpation; I am convinced that this is not the end," he told a media briefing.
Former Ukrainian premier Yulia Tymoshenko called on citizens to rise against the current leadership, Ukraine's UNIAN news agency said. She said she would tour Ukraine "to unite people" against the "gang which is now in power."
"We will try to gather an all-Ukrainian team to defend Ukraine in these dark and troubled times," Tymoshenko told a media briefing, adding that she would also seek early elections to choose a new parliament which would denounce the deal.
However, the two former allies in the pro-Western 2004 Orange Revolution are reluctant to join forces again.
"I joined forces with Tymoshenko twice, I cooperated [with her], but the result was always the same: an ever deepening fragmentation of patriotic and democratic forces," Yushchenko said.